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Dayton Docket

Law Alum Tackles New Role As First In-House Counsel For The Bengals

By Carole Judge

Growing up in Cincinnati, Emma Compton ’20 was a Bengals fan and attended games for as long as she can remember. Last year’s Super Bowl was no exception. Surrounded by family at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, she was wearing her black and orange stripes at a nail-biter that became a heartbreaker.

Fast forward a few months and this superfan is now earning her stripes as the franchise’s first In-House Counsel. It’s a big win for the Dayton Law grad who truly understands home-field advantage. Emma worked in several different capacities for the Bengals while studying sports administration in undergrad, so she already had a connection to the organization. 

“I kept in touch all through law school and maintained relationships; I even wrote a Law Review article about regulating sports gaming in Ohio,” explained Compton, who added, “It’s surreal that I am now back and working for a team I’ve supported my whole life in a role that is quite literally my dream job.”

Her first month on the job was spent figuring out what her new role would look like, how she could be an asset to each department or person within the organization, and what processes and procedures needed to be updated or implemented.

“Like any area of law, I had to learn, and I will continue to learn. The NFL has its own constitution, bylaws, rules, policies and procedures that affect all areas of the organization that I must be familiar with and apply to day-to-day tasks,” noted Compton, whose dad always knew her personality, skills as a writer and strong work ethic would make her a great lawyer.

Her trajectory is a lesson for anyone hoping to combine career with personal interests, and her advice is to gain experience everywhere you can. Prior to her current position, Compton worked for a law firm where she specialized in corporate and real estate law.

“Find individuals who have practices in the area of law that you are interested in and see if they have some time to answer questions about their practice. I found that many attorneys enjoy talking about what they do and welcome the opportunity. Attend networking events, join bar associations and young professional groups,” she offered.

Compton knew she would attend law school at the University of Dayton as soon as she stepped into Keller Hall. 

“I felt a strong sense of community and support, something I knew I would need throughout law school and something that many of the other schools I had visited lacked. The building was also newer and beautiful, which was important to me since I would be spending a lot of time there. As a proud Cincinnati native, Dayton had a lot to offer me but still let me stay close to home,” she added.

Professor Mary Kate Huffman’s class, Business Organizations, stands out as one of Compton’s favorites during law school, as well as a class focused on federal income tax – and she suggests everyone take foundational classes on tax and intellectual property if they can fit them into their schedule.  

“I thoroughly enjoyed law school and all of its challenges. I loved reading and briefing the cases, especially Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure. I loved writing the briefs and advocating for clients. I loved the classroom discussions. Equally as important, I met some incredible people who became and will continue to be lifelong friends,” recounted the 2020 grad who, like students nationwide, ended classes online, without a traditional graduation and with the added stress of a delayed bar exam.  

Even after passing the bar, it often felt to Compton that she wasn’t officially an attorney because all the special events, including a ceremony at the Ohio State House didn’t happen. Yet her accomplishments and responsibilities belie any doubt. She’s the real deal.

“I’m thrilled how it all played out and I am now in a role where I am able to pursue two of my passions – sports and law,” she said.

Her other interests include the arts where intermission at the Aronoff Center replaces halftime at Paul Brown Stadium. 

“I am a huge musical theatre fan,” said Compton, who has season tickets to the local Broadway season and enjoys annual trips to New York City with her mom to see more shows. Other free time is spent with friends and family, working out, or on the pickleball court.

“Who Dey?” Compton is hopeful, “Nobody!”

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